Thomas J. Armitage

Digital Marketing Consultant | Utica, NY

Category: Digital Marketing

Digital Marketing
Big Impact Without Big City Prices: Choosing the Right Digital Marketing Agency

Big Impact Without Big City Prices: Choosing the Right Digital Marketing Agency

Digital Marketing

Over the years, I’ve worked with many agencies – both big and small. I’ve had the opportunity to sit on both sides of the table, as a client and on an agency team. And each time, I have learned this simple truth: cost may not always equate to the value that’s provided.

Cost ≠ Value

In a past marketing role at Sovena USA, I was on a team that was challenged with launching a new olive oil product line in the retail space.

The olive oil business was, and still is, an old industry. For a new player, this would be a brutal, uphill battle as we were pitted against long-standing brands and market share leaders Filippo Berio and Bertolli. Not to mention our distribution in top retail locations, such as Walmart, Hannaford, and Giant, had store shelves that were already crowded. The competition was stiff all around.

We knew we needed help. We needed someone who had experience that we could leverage as we made our way through this new territory.

Sovena USA’s parent company, Sovena Group, is one of the largest olive oil companies in the world. Based in Portugal, their European brand, Oliveira da Serra, is like what Heinz ketchup is to Americans. Everyone knows it, everyone buys it, everyone uses it.

Because of the size and level of brand recognition that Sovena Group carries, as well as the close relationships it had already established with the agencies it used, we were able to get a meeting on the books with a U.S. branch of one of the largest ad agencies in the world.

Talk about pulling out all the stops. This ad agency won’t even have conversations with companies who aren’t willing and able to spend $800,000 in advertising – and that doesn’t include service fees.

After a few months of conversations and strategy planning sessions, we formed a partnership with this agency. The team was brilliant. It consisted of creative, futuristic thinkers who put heavy emphasis on visuals and messaging. It made sense for our brand.

They did great work, but boy, was it a lot of dough! I couldn’t help wonder if we could have reached the same results and successes with an agency that didn’t come with the big-name fees.

Big City Dreams

The hourly rate for marketing and advertising agencies can range. It depends on many factors including size, reputation, services provided, and more.

But there is one thing that always remains true – agencies from bigger cities charge more. That’s a fact.

Here are the ranges in fees for agencies based out of New York City:

  • Chief creative director: $775 to $849/hour
  • Executive account planning director: $528 to $541/hour
  • Account service director: $540 to $598/hour
  • Executive media director: $493 to $500/hour

Agencies in smaller markets will charge minimally 30 to 50% less than those levels.

Rather than just looking at size and location, businesses should explore an agency’s talent, processes, work ethic, and quality of work when making the choice on who to partner with. This is even more so the case if budget is a concern and you can’t afford to throw money away, simply because the firm is from Manhattan.

Here’s why you should look more closely at an agency and its rates before signing a contract:

1) Larger Agency Doesn’t Mean More Staff Members Working For You

Depending on the size of your contract, a small account team at the agency will likely be formed. This usually consists of an account manager or project manager, possibly a creative director depending on the scope of work, and then some sort of execution-based team members, such as copywriter, social media marketer, web developer, specific to the work that will be performed.

This is the thing. Just because a firm may employee 500, that doesn’t mean you have all of those staff members at your disposal. Most of them have their own client accounts. Nine times out of ten, you’ll have work performed by your small team, which puts you on the same playing field as a small- or medium-sized agency who will do the same for you.

Before signing a contract, seriously consider the members of your account team and the talent that’s represented, rather than just looking at the agency’s overall employment number.

2) The Big City Mentality Means Absolutely Nothing

Being from a small city in Upstate NY, I’ve often been wowed when I visit big metropolises. The heavy traffic, the skyscrapers, the commotion, it’s pretty cool if it’s not something you experience all the time. But, all that excitement doesn’t translate to better quality work.

Why should you pay a premium simply because of the mailing address of the office? It doesn’t add up.

Instead, look at the education, experience, and accolades of the team members who will be assigned to your account. What type of degrees do they have? What was the last company they worked for and what duties did they hold? What type of certifications have they earned? How long have they worked at the company?

As long as they have the know-how to handle your account and get the job done well, it doesn’t matter if they are from Los Angeles, CA or Little Falls, NY.

Your hourly fees from agencies in small to mid-sized markets will be much more reasonable – and you don’t have to sacrifice quality or experience because of it.

3) Don’t Overlook The Attention You’re Given

At one point in my career, I was on the other side of the table. The organization I was with used two agencies – one for public relations and another for graphic design.

The PR firm was relatively large. They had six locations (up to nine now) and employed 200+. We didn’t have a big budget so we were the low man on the totem pole. We often had a tough time booking meetings because, we assumed, the needs of their larger clients took priority.

On the other hand, as a boutique shop that employed five, our design company was ready and willing to drop whatever they were doing to come to our aid. They rearranged their schedules to fit ours and turned around deliverables very quickly. The amount of attention we were given was fantastic.

Don’t overlook the agencies who will take pride in a relationship with you, welcome the opportunity to have your business, and will work hard to keep it. But, if you’re someone who enjoys being treated like you’re second-rate, then, by all means, risk it with a large agency.

4) Focus On Your Needs, Not The Needs Of Others

Many large agencies put heavy emphasis on creative work. This might include branding, logo development, strategy and messaging, storytelling, video production, photo and art concepts, etc. The thing is, most businesses – especially in B2B – have other priorities.

Not to downplay the importance of creative (because I know how important it is), but companies with sales teams starving for leads, long buying cycles, and extreme pressure from top-level management can’t be distracted with the next cool commercial that might win an ADDY Award. They need an agency that’s focused on helping them in the here and now. Less brainstorming, more action, with total emphasis on getting work done.

This is a major difference I’ve found. Compared to large agencies, mid-sized agencies can usually drive more meaningful, hard results for clients. One survey found that the most popular services featured among agencies across all regions included: SEO, PPC, social media, content, and analytics. If you need leads, work with an agency that’s going to offer a custom solution that consists of those type of services and is focused on your goals, not the next hottest trend or commercial.

5) Make Sure They Prove Their Worth

According to MarketingProfs, 82% of marketing executives say that they expect campaigns to be measured, yet only 18% to 26% actually are.

Marketing and advertising have matured over the years into industries that are less about art and more about science. What I mean is that our work can be, and should be, measured and proven.

Regardless if efforts focus on search engine optimization, online advertising, or lead nurturing, you must understand the amount of money you’ve put in (both out of pocket and time) and measure against the revenue that’s driven.

Forget the traditional efforts where you have only estimates of eyeballs that have seen your site or ad. Those are pointless. In the digital world, everything is trackable. It’s the only way to have a clear understanding of cost vs. profit.

It is so important to work with an agency that understands your business and its goals, and can put measurement practices into play to help you measure a return on investment.

In your initial discussions, question the agency team about their knowledge base in analytics and tracking. Inquire about the software and tools they have in their repertoire, and ask to see what positive results they’ve generated for other clients like yourself.

Today, measurement is the gold standard of digital marketing. You should feel good about your partnership with an agency and not feel the need to second-guess its worth.

Closing the Deal

All agencies are not created equal. Higher cost does not mean higher quality, nor does it signify more quantity.

According to 4A’s, the leading trade association representing the advertising agency business, agencies should charge based on several criteria, including reputation, service offering, and quality.

They use a great car analogy to represent this – Jaguar charges more for its cars because of its reputation for quality. Both it and a Ford get you from point A to point B in the same way. But one is able to offer a higher price point because they’ve earned the right to do so.

Before signing on the dotted line with a big agency simply because of its size or location, look deeper inside the walls. Ask around. What’s the agency’s reputation? Who will be working on your account? What’s their talent and experience? What type of services are being performed and what type of results will be seen? Finally, is this a partner who’s in it for the long haul? One who will deeply understand your business, take risks and put in the hard work right alongside you?

The best agencies are ones who you view as a partner, not a vendor.

This post was originally published for Site-Seeker. Click here to view in its original form.

Low-Cost, High-Value Marketing Ideas

Low-Cost, High-Value Marketing Ideas

Digital Marketing

There are thousands of articles out there on the best digital marketing tactics. How do you decide which ones make the most sense for your material handling company? It’s a big undertaking.

I’ll let you in on a little secret, too. Some of them – heck, maybe most of them – would fail you. And it might not be your fault.

Not all tactics work for every company. There’s a reason why street teams helped RedBull successfully launch the brand in the U.S. and why consumer packaged goods (CPG) companies continue to run free-standing inserts (FSIs) in Sunday newspapers. It makes sense for them. If they weren’t generating positive results, they would have cut those programs years ago.

There are many factors in deciding on the best marketing tactics for your business. They include:

  • Your industry
  • Your target audience
  • Your budget
  • Your resources
  • Your timeline

Our company has been working alongside material handling businesses for more than a decade, building marketing strategies and helping to carry out a variety of tactical efforts. We’ve learned a thing or two about what works, what doesn’t, what’s expensive, and what generates a healthy return on investment (ROI).

Here’s our secret list of low-cost, high-value marketing ideas for material handlers.

Local Optimization

Local optimization is the improvement of a brand’s presence in search engines, among local searchers. This includes ensuring Google MyBusiness and Bing Local pages are accurate and thoroughly built out. One should run a citation report to make sure that local listing websites feature correct and up-to-date information for your business. This can also include a program to encourage positive business reviews for your company. Finally, your website should be optimized through keywords, content, and metadata around geo-specific search terms. This will boost your rankings above competitors in the search engines, giving you an edge on the amount of free, organic traffic coming into your site. A recent study states that 18% of local mobile searches lead to a sale within one day. These are hot leads. Act appropriately.

Expenses: Set-up and management expenses

Outcomes: Increased organic traffic, better search presence, improved brand reputation through reviews

Remarketing Ads

You have probably been on the receiving end of remarketing ads but may not know them by name. If you’ve ever shopped on a retail website, let’s say for a band t-shirt, and then noticed an ad for that same t-shirt while on a totally different website, that’s remarketing.

Through code and cookies, it recalls what web pages you’ve visited and advertisers are able to personalize ads based on that historical data. It’s genius. Consider past web visitors who have browsed your site in search of used forklifts. Employ remarketing to stay top of mind among these prospects and re-engage at a later date when they’re more ready to buy. It’s a pay-per-click model so you can control the budget. Website visitors who are retargeted with display ads are 70% more likely to convert on your website.

Expenses: Recommendation of $500 – $1000/mo for ad costs through Google AdWords, management expenses

Outcomes: Increase leads, higher brand recall

[View our free slideshow on 10 reasons why your customers aren’t seeing your web content]

LiveChat

We live in a world where we value instant communication. We’ve been sensitized by SMS texting and social media and, generally speaking, customers are increasingly impatient. That’s especially the case when a prospect is suffering downtime due to faulty equipment, and he/she needs an answer…fast.

Consider implementing LiveChat on your site. Through this software, you can encourage web users to get in touch immediately with a customer service representative, rather than submit a form and wait hours or days to hear a response.

Plus, users can multi-task while they type, something very important to busy buyers. They can briefly describe their issues and get helpful information or begin moving forward with a purchase right then and there. From a buying sense, these are your hottest leads: they have a problem, and they need help now. Why delay that process? Some companies have seen improvements in conversion rates of 45% as a result of LiveChat.

Expenses: $60/mo for the software, set-up expenses, staff member(s) to manage customer service

Outcomes: Increase leads through the chat form, improved customer service, reduce wait time in the buying process

Automated Email Marketing

Most material handling companies have been in business a long time and I bet yours has too. Over that time, you’ve collected contact information from many past buyers. Let’s put that data to use.

According to VentureBeat, of all marketing tactics, email marketing generates the highest return on investment (likely because distribution is so inexpensive). When using an automation tool, you’re able to set up workflows that carry out actions without you needing to think or manually push buttons.

Consider these automated workflows:

  • Instant email: This is for those who submit for more information on your site and should ensure that his/her message has been received. You can supplement users with relevant reading material while they wait for your phone call.
  • Cold leads: Perhaps you tried selling parts to contacts in the past, but the deals fell through. They aren’t bad leads, just cold. Set up monthly automated emails to help stay top of mind and ensure they’re aware of your latest offers.
  • Cross-selling: Much like recommendations from Amazon for similar products, if your system recalls what customers have purchased in the past and you’ve properly segmented your lists, you can automate emails to cross-sell or upsell more strategically.

It’s best to think about these tools as an extension of your sales team. A software like Hubspot will let you email directly to leads, input customer information, and track stages throughout the buying process. The tool is intelligent and understands the pages and emails that prospects visit to give you a clearer insight into their wants/needs so you can act at the right time. The software also provides reverse IP lookup so you can see any large companies visiting your site even before they submit contact information to you. We call it professional stalking.

Expenses: $800 – $1000/mo for automation software, setup, and management expenses

Outcomes: Increased leads, shortened buying cycle, improved upselling

As a material handling professional, there’s a lot you can do to improve the relationships you have with current customers and generate new leads. But it’s like the Wild Wild West out there. You’re being faced with a ton of ideas and tactics, and there are plenty that aren’t in your best interest to pursue. Take our advice and look closely at the four that we’ve already tested that have the lowest costs and highest value for material handling companies. Need help? Give us a shout today.

[Download our exclusive eBook on how to prospect better in the digital age]

This post was originally published for Site-Seeker. To view, click here.

Digital Marketing Today is More About Science, Less About Magic

Digital Marketing Today is More About Science, Less About Magic

Digital Marketing

We’ve seen so many changes take place as a result of the digital revolution. Think beyond “mobile” and “social.” I’m talking about an even greater change. A change that has made it easier for some of us to do our jobs and harder for others. I’m talking about the rise of data and its role in marketing and how various tools today can help marketers be successful with little to no creativity.

This past September, I had the pleasure of attending #INBOUND15 in Boston. It was a radical conference – so many great like-minded marketers, awesome entertainment and food, and wonderful breakout sessions and speakers. During the keynote, co-founder and CEO of Hubspot Brian Halligan spoke about the importance of software and tools today. At one point, he said this:

“Today, marketing is more about science and less about magic.”

I wrote it down. Along with another 50 pages of notes throughout the four days there.

It wasn’t until recently when I did a download of my takeaways that I revisited the quote. I let it digest and gave it a lot of thought. And finally I started to figure it what it meant (to me, at least). Come to find out, it really resonated because it was a similar theme that I’ve been preaching for a while. I just never worded it that way.

 

(Source)

Right and Left Brains

My interpretation is that there are two types of marketers. Those that are right-brained and creative and those that are left-brained and not. Because of the importance of data/technical-ness in our daily lives today, it’s becoming more and more common for left-brained folks to serve a real purpose. Of course, having teams made up of both is essential – but this concept of science trumping art (aka magic) is surely something to think about.

Now I certainly don’t intend to undermine the importance of creativity. Today, perhaps more than ever, requires great creative (copy, writing, graphics, video) to actually be noticed. On TV, through streaming ads, in social media – everywhere. The very foundation of marketing was built on that that is interesting, captivating and engaging. And that will not change.

But there’s a critical place for all of you who are not so savvy. The folks who draw stick figures or have trouble writing. There’s a place for you because so much of what we do today is drawn from the ability to work with, navigate and excel at very important software that help us get the job done on a daily basis. A place because numbers and analytics are the battery that helps the marketing clock keep ticking. Because everything we do today requires measurement. It’s what allows us to track ROI and deem a project successful or unsuccessful. And the tools available to us today allow us to track at a microscopic level. It’s no longer guesswork like it was in the 60s. We can prove the true value to our work.

Important Tools Today

It was hilarious, a few weeks ago, when Google Drive crapped the bed and was down all afternoon. Twitter was buzzing with complaints and my office was refreshing Google’s support page every 5 minutes. We, as marketers, cannot work without three things: WiFi, our devices, and our software. Too much of what we do every day relies on it. And when we lose that connection, we are a waste of air. And it’s because so much of our day is consumed by powerful software that we use to get the job done. I betcha you use some these:

Reporting:

  • Raven Tools
  • KISSMetrics
  • Google Analytics

Marketing Automation:

  • HubSpot
  • Marketo
  • SharpSpring

SEO Services:

  • SEMRush
  • Raven Tools
  • Majestic SEO

Public Relations:

  • CisionPoint
  • Vocus
  • Meltwater

Social Media Management:

  • SproutSocial
  • Falcon
  • Hootsuite

The list goes on and on. It’s so important to have members on our team who are great at thoroughly using software to uncover and interpret data, manage projects, and strategically make wise decisions. That’s why young marketers (or those looking to come over from other fields) should understand this:

Creativity is not the end-all-be-all of marketing. If you are a left-brained, less creative person, you can find ways to excel in the field by using the many various tools at your disposal. Take advantage of technical traits, and you can find ways to be extremely successful.

I actually feel I sit more on the right hand side of the spectrum. So all of this came to me not because I thought I was technically-savvy, but because I thought it would be helpful to try and improve those types of skills. Alas, I did some research and found some help. Below, find 5 certifications that I believe to be less on the creative side, and more on the analytical side that can help individuals looking to become better at left-brained marketing.

Codeacademy: HTML and CSS

Code has been always Greek to me. I always felt intimidated in front of it. But as a content marketer and SEO professional, I found myself often times being faced with it. Now I wasn’t expecting to build full blown websites, but the opportunity certainly came up where I need to make tweaks, override CSS for styling, or identify errors so my development team could have a better understanding of what was going on. The basics are taught on codeacademy through an excellent hands-on approach that so many have completed to date to help improve this technical trade. I’m a fan.

Hootsuite Social Media Management

Social media is still that bad boy from high school that everyone thinks is cool but no one respects. But it’s slowly coming around as more and more brands find value (in terms of real, legitimate leads and sales) through these channels. Conducting effective social media require a whole lot of creativity – from the content that is prepared and distributed to the ads that are built to drive awareness, push content further or grows followers. But think about timing, measurement and monitoring. There’s definitely a place for technical minds to help with social media. Give them a thorough understanding of social media so they can assist with the efforts. Take advantage of Hootsuite’s offering.

Hubspot Inbound Certification

Inbound certainly requires great creativity – especially when it comes to the content creation portion, the landing page designs, or the clever email copy. But beyond that is building a system of workflows, triggers and emails that make sense to help nurture leads over time. It requires looking closely at data to figure out the best time to reach out to leads and make contact. And do not overlook A/B testing, heatmaps and more. It’s a must to create a plan that can take those quality pieces of content and get the most out it. These technical skills can be improved through HubSpot’s certification. (And even more through its partner program).

The Google Suite

If you aren’t familiar with Google software, it’s hard to be successful in marketing today. From Webmaster Tools to Analytics to AdWords to Tag Manager to Drive to Hangouts, it’s practically impossible to go an entire day without running into a component of the Google suite. Consider certifications from the tech giant to become better at using AdWords, Tag Manager and Analytics and understand both basic and advanced technical functions to get the most use out of these tools. It will likely allow you to not only do a better job on your next SEO, advertising or marketing project, but you’ll probably be able to work faster by knowing shortcuts and the right features to get the job done.

Project Management Institute

Projects today are very complex. If you’re a believer in an integrated approach, you’ll start with a strategy, have multiple players involved, set benchmarks, assign tasks, budget costs and hours, and more. Great project management skills require organization and focus. It’s not for the faint of heart, or a loosy-goose mind. Take advantage of the skills that can be attained through this certification and manage projects better, from start to finish. It’s not “technical” per se, but it certainly requires much more of a focused, rigid mindset than that of a creative set of skills.

Wrap Up

More of a left-brained individual? Don Draper had no room for you in 1964. If you couldn’t draw or write copy, you were wasting his time.

Now, our teams are more diverse. Marketing encompasses more duties and responsibilities. And the skills required for this field are dense. Analytics, measurement, data, and using powerful software to its fullest potential and abilities can make a regular ‘ol marketer a certified genius. If you’re a numbers guy/girl, development guy/girl, and an overly tech-savvy guy/girl, you can probably find a suitable niche.

Listen, I’m one of the biggest advocates on the face of the earth for great creative. And more importantly, I appreciate good artists and I despise those who try to be something they are not (the “I know my way around Photoshop a little bit” type artists). Good content writing. Good visuals. Good copywriting. It’s all an integral part of successful marketing and developing a powerful brand – especially online. But it’s still a piece. And there are other shoes that need to be filled. Measurement is a must. And those analytical, technical minds are so important.

We need you.

This post was originally featured in SEMrush.com. To view the original article, please click here.

How to Crowdsource for Expert Opinions – FAST!

How to Crowdsource for Expert Opinions – FAST!

Digital Marketing

If you’re like me, you often find yourself in a jam where you’re in need of advice in a hurry. When this happens, I often rely on crowdsourcing to solve the issue.

There’s no shame with leaning on your peers for help. Whether you’re working on a business presentation and are hung-up on a slide, need a quick quote for this week’s blog post or simply have a pressing question about your day-to-day work — we’ve all been there.

Co-workers can be great, but you can usually find more diverse opinions or get tips outside of your company’s specific area of expertise if you cast your net further.

Crowdsourcing, or gathering info and opinions from a large group, has been made much easier and effective through the use of the social web. The real-time nature and the ability to connect with strangers of diverse backgrounds all across the world make these platforms a perfect fit for quick information-gathering.

I’ve found that most thought leaders who are active in social media are both approachable and willing. They can be very useful to answering your questions in a bind. You just need to know where to find them.

Here are my five favorite tactics when I’m looking for quick answers:

1) Twitter Chats

Twitter is often the go-to resource for people when they need to ask questions online. And why not? You can usually get answers within seconds, and strangers are totally okay with sharing their opinions. You can also immediately contact those who answered if you have follow-up questions. When you are looking to crowdsource, certainly start by asking your question via Twitter.

Schedule the question out a few times over the course of the day or week by using a tool like Buffer, to make sure you tap different followers who are signed in at different times. And don’t forget to ask for a RT so your tweet can be retweeted and get in front of people who don’t already follow you. Many studies have been done and most prove that explicitly asking for a RT results in a much higher success rate.

Most people stop their efforts here. But you’ve only just begun.

My next suggestion is to research weekly Twitter chats that are relevant to your particular topic. Is your topic about pay-per-click advertising? Then make sure to jot down the times and days for #PPCChat, #SEOChat, and #mktgtalk. Here’s the full list of Twitter Chats. Uncover which Twitter Chats make sense for your question and plan to attend those this week.

When the chat begins, don’t get hasty. Most of the hour is usually devoted to a moderator asking questions and participants joining in with responses. However, towards the end, there is usually an “open mic” section where you can chime in with a plug of your company/business or shoot off a personal question. This is where you should take advantage. You have a captive audience of dozens, maybe even hundreds, of professionals who are fitting to give you feedback. Don’t waste your chance. Ask away.

2) LinkedIn Groups

LinkedIn had a feature a few years ago called “LinkedIn Answers.” It was specifically made for people to solicit answers from the LinkedIn user base. I actually liked this tool and especially loved the ability to add a poll so users could quickly log a response and not have to worry about typing long-winded answers. Unfortunately, LinkedIn discontinued this service in 2013. They said it was due to lack of activity. Regardless, there is still a way to take advantage of all those great professionals on LinkedIn.

Based on the topic of your question, seek out a few different LinkedIn groups that are relevant. Make sure they have lots of members and have an active community (notice recent posts and comments). Join the group if it’s an open community, or if it’s a group that makes sense for your personal brand, and post your question. Make sure you select that you’d like to receive notifications if/when someone comments. Many members of these groups subscribe to daily or weekly notifications or emails, so your comment could come through for many people to see.

If you are already a member of many groups, and your question is relevant to one of them, you can skip the research step and get right to posting. Go to “Your Groups” homepage and you can enter in the discussion topic/question and easily share it with the group of your liking. Repeat the process to ask the same question to a different group. I’d suggest keeping this to a max of three groups so you aren’t seen as a spammer. Make sure you monitor your notifications if anyone comes to your aid with a comment.

3) Answer Sites

Quora came out of the gate strong a few years ago and then the hype faded fairly quickly. But you might be surprised to know that it is the most popular Q&A site today and has hundreds of millions of visits per month. Quite a few active users too. The requirement of a full account gives the site some credibility since you have to provide some details about yourself and can’t hide behind the “anonymous” handle. What’s cool too is that the site asks users to select their areas of interest.

As a user, I might acknowledge that I have some knowledge of punk music, the Dallas Cowboys, and digital marketing. Questions in those categories then will populate in my feed where I’ll be able to answer them. As a seeker of information, this ensures to me that those answering my question at least have some interest or expertise. So I can get some pretty decent responses.

Just sign in. Post your question (has to be in question format), add topics that are related to your question, and then publish. Ensure that your settings allow you to be notified when you start seeing responses. Now sit back and wait. Or, if you want, take a look at some of the other Q&A sites out there. WikiAnswers from Answers.com, reddit questions, and Yahoo! Answers operate in a similar way and can also be worthwhile to your crowdsourcing efforts.

4) Disqus

Popular blogs continue to attract a great deal of comments, even in 2015. Different websites use different commenting platforms. I happen to really love the plugin/website Disqus. If you’re unfamiliar with it, it’s a blog commenting tool that makes it easy to track your comments. It does this by keeping your activity in one place. I can leave comments on any site that uses the Disqus plugin and the site will recall where those comments are and notify me if anyone has replied. I just have to sign in to my Disqus account and I can see the comments I’ve left and read the replies. This sure beats having to remember every site I’ve left comments on and going back to visit those pages to see if anyone responded to me.

As you’re crowdsourcing for expert opinions, find newly published blog posts and news articles that cover related topics to your question. Sign into the comment application using your Disqus account and work your question naturally into the comment area. Make sure it’s not out of left field – it still must be relevant to the above read. As people read the post over the next week, your comment will be seen by many readers and hopefully will lead to some high quality answers. In my experience, Disqus seems to be the most popular comment plugin with 2.5 million sites using it. But there are similar plugins out there like LiveFyre or IntenseDebate that can do this too, so you may need to create accounts elsewhere, beyond Disqus, if you find super fitting articles that you’d like to post a question in.

5) SurveyMonkey

SurveyMonkey makes it super easy to create short polls and quizzes. Create an account, then follow the step-by-step instructions to create a very short survey that asks your question. I generally like to see surveys only have one question, but if you absolutely have to, you can include one or two more max. Don’t forget to ask for their names/titles if you are looking to gather a quote and need attribution. The survey shouldn’t take your friends longer than a few seconds to take.

Now you need to get it out to your contacts. We all have tons of email addresses in our contact list so use them wisely. Instead of mass emailing with a standard, boring paragraph of text, make it simple and straightforward, so it won’t take much time to read on their end. Make your subject line brief, polite and intriguing. For example, “Please Take My Poll.” Then include a sentence about what you are doing. Provide the link for SurveyMonkey and thank them in advance. After sending out, you can access answers within your SurveyMonkey account, so you don’t have to worry about checking your emails. Share the SurveyMonkey link on your social media sites too. Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn will likely be your best bets.

None of us have all the answers. Despite a prestigious title, years of experience and an overpaid education, we often need to rely on others for help. I love crowdsourcing. With the many free tools available at our disposal, we can gather expert opinions quickly. Most of the time, you’ll have what you need by EOD and no later than the end of the week. Rely heavily on the network you’ve built over the years. And when someone reaches out to you for help with a question, be sure to lend a hand. What goes around, comes around.

Happy crowdsourcing!

What are some other sites or techniques you use to gather advice on short-notice? I’d love to know. List them below!

This post was originally published for SEMrush. To read the original article, please click here.

99 Tactics Every Marketer Should Know

99 Tactics Every Marketer Should Know

Digital Marketing

Puzzle integration with internet securityIt’s funny to think that there was once a time when TV, newspaper, and radio ads were the most powerful forms of marketing. Today, there are so many more options out there to help brands build relationships and grow sales. Put simply, we’ve advanced. I find it odd that some companies choose to invest in only one particular tactic like, say, online banner ads and expect to see results. Don’t get me wrong; PPC can be a great form of marketing, but you aren’t going to move the needle with just one effort. It’s just not possible. Instead, you need many things working together towards a common goal. The lines are blurring amongst marketing disciplines and this integrated approach is key to reaching audiences efficiently and influencing their buying decisions. There are many tactics that a company can and should be taking advantage of. A strategy should be put in place first to organize a plan and determine which efforts are most likely to help meet objectives. Throughout this development process, consider all the tactics available, especially less popular ones that might require some extra work or creativity but could be a perfect fit for your brand. Keep in mind that integrating your tactics together with an aligned theme and messaging has added value. Here’s the list of 99 different tactics that marketing communication professionals can utilize in their efforts:

  1. A/B testing
  2. Advergames (branded games)
  3. Affinity marketing
  4. App store optimization
  5. Associations and memberships
  6. Awards
  7. Billboard ads
  8. Blogger outreach
  9. Brand development
  10. Broadcast or TV ads
  11. Buyer personas
  12. Case studies
  13. Cause marketing
  14. Chalk art
  15. Co-ops
  16. Community goodwill, donations, or volunteering
  17. Consumer data/feedback collection
  18. Content marketing
  19. Contests
  20. Contributed posts
  21. Couponing
  22. Crisis communication
  23. Custom voicemails
  24. Digital billboards
  25. Direct mail
  26. Downloads
  27. Drip marketing
  28. E-books
  29. E-commerce
  30. Editorials
  31. Email marketing
  32. Employee videos
  33. Flyers
  34. Free trials and sampling
  35. Gamification
  36. Giveaways
  37. Guerrilla marketing
  38. Hand written notes (thank you’s, birthday, holiday, etc) to customers/prospects
  39. Hosted events
  40. How-to videos
  41. In-game ads
  42. Industry events and conferences
  43. Internal or external trainings
  44. Lead generation and lead nurturing
  45. Linking
  46. Live chat and enhanced customer service
  47. Local optimization
  48. Market research
  49. Media relations and PR
  50. Mini-sites and landing pages
  51. Mobile app development
  52. Mobile marketing and SMS
  53. Motion or animated videos
  54. Movie theater ads
  55. Newsletters
  56. On-site blogging
  57. Outdoor street ads
  58. Packaging designs
  59. Paid posts from social media stars
  60. Personalized products
  61. Point of purchase signage
  62. Point of sale literature
  63. Pop ups or pop unders
  64. PowerPoint presentations
  65. PPC ads
  66. Press releases
  67. Print ads
  68. Product or employee photos
  69. Product placement
  70. PSAs or video PSAs
  71. Publicity stunts
  72. Radio ads
  73. Referral program
  74. Remarketing
  75. Reporting and analysis
  76. Reputation management
  77. Reviews
  78. Reward or loyalty programs
  79. Sales promotions and discounts
  80. Sales sheets and white papers
  81. Search engine optimization (SEO)
  82. Social media listening and monitoring
  83. Social media marketing
  84. Speaking opportunities
  85. Spokesperson and media training
  86. Sponsorships
  87. Street teams
  88. Team building outings
  89. Telemarketing and cold calling
  90. Testimonials
  91. Tracking and measurement
  92. Tradeshows
  93.  Tutorials and demos
  94. User testing
  95. Viral marketing
  96. Vlogging
  97. Webinars and podcasts
  98. Webisodes and branded shows
  99. Websites

When choosing tactics, it’s important to consider your audience’s media consumption habits, your budget, as well as your team’s time and talent. Remember that it most often takes seven touchpoints to win over a customer. Be conscious of the tactics you are selecting and where you are interacting with those prospects within the buying process. Don’t bite off more than you can chew. It’s better to thoroughly execute a few rather than having too many on your plate and falling short. Ask questions like, what has worked in the past? What hasn’t? What are your competitors doing? What can you do differently? What does your research show would be most cost effective? Where can you afford to take a risk? Can your messaging and creative be applied to all tactics?

One of my favorite integrated campaigns from the past year is from Chipotle. It’s done a fantastic job at tying together many tactics, which all revolve around their main messaging of healthier, fresher foods. Maybe you’ve seen the animated TV ads or custom-branded streamed show, “Farmed and Dangerous?” Have you played its mobile game, The Scarecrow? Those more edgy tactics were backed up traditional PR, SM, and SEO. It worked. Really well.

Another great integrated campaign was Dove’s Real Beauty. The messaging focused on anti-Photoshop, anti-fake perceptions of women’s appearances. That confidence and self-esteem mattered more than society’s view of what is beautiful. It began with market research. Dove then launched a cause marketing campaign to help influence the young generation with help from the Boys & Girls Club of America, as well as the Girl Scouts of the USA. It utilized viral marketing with a good deal of attention given to its “Real Beauty Sketches” YouTube video, housed on a branded mini-site. Don’t forget about the ever-present TV and print ads.

You don’t have to be a large corporation to mimic both Chipotle and Dove’s successes. Plan your tactics well and take time to get creative with each one. Spend time planning. Spend time executing. Spend time evaluating. Next, use that information to determine the best tactics. Learn from your findings and adapt your plan moving forward. Don’t be afraid to try something out of your comfort zone if it makes sense for your brand. The most successful campaigns refuse to play it safe. And most importantly…integrate.

Did I miss any tactics in the list? Make sure to comment below so professionals can learn of all of their available options!